In 2020, we shared the progress and setbacks we’ve faced while doing the work to become a more diverse, equitable and inclusive organization. Many of the actions we’ve taken so far have been out in the open, such as representing communities of colour in our imagery (since 2018), boycotting Facebook and Instagram to Stop Hate For Profit (June to October 2020), and committing to the Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge (since 2018).
We knew it was time to go deeper. To get more personal and peel back the layers of hidden biases. Here’s what we’ve been working lately on to create change within MEC:
- Unconscious bias training for staff: Amil Reddy, a Certified Canadian Inclusion Professional, led the first set of training to store managers and head office staff. It was a powerful session – we explored privilege, systemic inequalities, cross-cultural communication and our own unconscious biases. The goals are for staff to feel more comfortable discussing sensitive topics, for leaders to accept teams with authenticity, and for everyone to broaden their perspectives at work and in the world. We’ll be rolling out similar training for every MEC staffer across Canada by summer 2021, including a focus on inclusive member service.
- Toolkits for staff: We compiled an evolving collection of resources for staff so they can continue to learn from the lived experiences of others.
- Challenging the status quo: We pushed our staff benefits program to include more gender options for staff.
- Recognizing important days: As significant days appear on the calendar, we’re highlighting them with staff on our internal site, based on a collaborative calendar shared with our DEI committee. A few examples: Transgender Day of Remembrance, Pride Month, Diwali, International Women’s Day, and Remembrance Day with a focus on the contributions of Black, Indigenous and queer communities.
- Better understanding of staff diversity: Our annual staff surveys can now help us better understand our diverse workforce. We’ve introduced a way for staff to let us know what communities they belong to, if they wish to share. These surveys are anonymous and optional.
- New store signage: We’ve installed respectful workplace signage to let staff and members know we’re committed to creating an environment free of bias or discrimination. If anyone observes actions inconsistent with this commitment, the signage asks them to contact the store manager or Member Service Desk.
What we’re working on next
We’ve been hard at work to make change happen, and we still have more work to go.
- More inclusive hiring practices: We’re working to support the introduction of anonymized screening for potential candidates, where names and genders aren’t visible to prevent unconscious biases from affecting decisions.
- Higher standards for accessibility training: On January 25, we’ll be launching new accessibility training for staff (with a focus on store staff). Accessibility training standards vary by province, and this new training will elevate all staff across Canada to the highest standards.
- More ways to celebrate and recognize differences: We want to elevate awareness of the wide-reaching cultures and beliefs that make up our MEC staff teams. Some ideas include book clubs, social meetings and opportunities for people to connect, explore diverse views, discuss thought-provoking topics, and learn from each other.
Our journey is far from over. Unlike a hiking trail or summit, there is no destination when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion – it’s always evolving, and we can always do better. We commit to keep doing the work so that everyone can see themselves outside.
For more details on what we’re learning and the actions we’ve taken so far, visit our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion page.